It’s time to talk about drinking hours, says Alberta’s solicitor general Jonathan Denis. In particular, it’s time to ease the restrictions. Currently bars close at 2 a.m. in the province.
What would be the effects of longer drinking hours in Alberta? Some worry about more drunk people and hence more drunk drivers, but Denis says the opposite: the present laws actually put more drunk drivers on the road. The reasoning is that the crush of calls for taxis at 2.a.m. — a well known phenomenon in Alberta — causes some drinkers to be left without a ride, and those drinkers end up driving home. Having hundreds of bars close at the same time can be a huge drain on car services.
Montreal’s liquor board recently struck down a pilot project that would keep the city’s bars open till 6. The reason: it is “contrary to the public interest” and “likely to disturb public tranquility.”
As for Alberta, it’s early days – Denis’s request is just to open a discussion on the matter – so it will be a while before we know whether two more hours of public drinking will be allowed in the province, and if so, what effect that will have on Alberta’s streets and roads.